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WNBA

Upon Further Review, The Aces Have Not Met Their Match

2:49 PM EDT on August 18, 2023

Chelsea Gray jumps in the air and celebrates as the Aces beat the Liberty.
David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

According to various media reports, the New York Liberty defeated the Las Vegas Aces this past Tuesday to win the Commissioner's Cup. The score of that game, while perhaps interesting to sensationalists, is ultimately irrelevant. Nonetheless this in-season exhibition, with no impact on the WNBA standings, led certain Defector staffers to conclude that the defending champion Aces had met their match.

Huh. That's quite the theory. We now direct your attention to the result of Thursday night's game between the Liberty and Aces. It seems that ... the Aces won, by double-digits? The box score does read "88-75," after all. That can't be right, can it? And because it was an actual regular-season game that mattered, it improved Vegas's record to 28-3? And dropped New York's to 24-7? Interesting. Interesting!

In the win, Chelsea Gray recorded her second career triple-double, the first in franchise history since Margo Dydek accomplished it with the Utah Starzz in 2001. Wow. This is news to us, even though we just wrote it out. But would that mean that the Aces actually hadn't met their match earlier this week? Does their match remain hazy, unfamiliar? Did they see their match at a party and choose to talk to another group instead of saying hi?

As lifelong Aces fans since 2022, we're used to criticism. The Aces are cooked, the Aces are shook, etc. Oh, the roster has no depth? Here's a "deep" thought for you: A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinion of sheep.

Is depth necessary when a team has four all-stars dishing passes, sinking buckets, and stuffing shots? Chelsea Gray: hooper. Jackie Young: hooper. Kelsey Plum: hooper. A'ja Wilson: indubitably a hooper. The fifth player on the floor for the Aces could be the mascot BUCKET$, a TikToker pulled off the street, Barry Petchesky—it doesn't matter.

What changed between Tuesday and Thursday? Rather than fixate on any prior shooting woes, head coach Becky Hammon forced her team to relax. According to The Athletic, "Hammon locked them out of the gym Wednesday, claiming to have deactivated their key cards after watching film so that they couldn’t shoot." The result? Gray and Young consistently had the Liberty's defense scrambling with their drives, and Wilson dominated around the hoop down the stretch. Whoever nabbed Sabrina Ionescu's shoes also made off with Breanna Stewart's shot last night. Not our problem!

Some may bring up the fact that the Liberty soundly beat the Aces earlier this month, 99-61. Well, guess what? We don't look at the past. What matters is what lies ahead, and right now for the Aces that's the path to a second straight title. The next date to watch is Aug. 28, when the Aces go to New York for one more ... well, we won't say "matchup," because there are no matches to be found. If you hear any barking then, that's because the big dogs are in town. Woof woof. Let's go Aces.

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